Death Proof (2007)

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Director: Quentin Tarantino

Stars: Kurt Russell, Zoe Bell, Roasrio Dawson, Mary Elizabeth Winstead

Top Gear with murderers and sexy people

Death Proof was the only Quentin film I had left to see. I suppose I was putting it off because of all the awful reviews I had read, with Quentin himself even calling it the worst film he’s ever done. However, I have to say that I was very pleasantly surprised with what I received and I have to disagree with the majority of the negative remarks. In fact, I would put both Jackie Brown and Reservoir Dogs behind Death Proof, although I appreciate that I am definitely in the minority who rates Reservoir Dogs averagely.

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I think half the problem is that people are trying to Death Proof as a serious film. If you look at the frequently asked questions on IMDb, you’ll find questions such as, “Why was Stuntman Mike so inconsistent at the end?” and “What does the character Stuntman Mike symbolise?” I think the people asking these questions are missing the point. Quentin is pretty much the king of pastiche and here he’s pretty much creating a parody of sleazy 70’s Grindhouse films. It isn’t supposed to be taken seriously, it’s meant to be a fun love letter to a lost genre, and for me it works.

It’s a lovingly crafted film right from the authentic opening credits. If you were an alien who had no idea who Quentin Tarantino was, then you could easily mistake the first half for being a genuine 70’s Grindhouse film! The look of the film is brilliant with dirty marks popping up on every frame and strange continuity errors. It adds a unique atmosphere to the film which matches the film’s sleazy antagonist, Stuntman Mike. He’s your run-of-the-mill nutter who enjoys mutilating sexy girls with his car. Luckily Quentin manages to take away the film’s uncomfortable themes of misogyny by creating a fun ‘girl power’ second-half.

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The film actually took me by surprise as it takes a massive detour in the middle which I didn’t see coming, so I won’t spoil it for people who haven’t seen it yet. I’m not sure if it entirely worked, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I loved the long, hypnotic first-half which kind of reminded me of something David Lynch would do. It has long takes in a Twin Peaks-style bar with dreamy music playing in the background and dancing. It feels long, but it’s never boring and always engaging. There’s a lot of great dialogue in this half too.

Unfortunately the dialogue didn’t work so well for me in the second-half. Some of it felt like a parody of a Quentin Tarantino film and conversations dragged on for far too long. Thankfully, Quentin manages to snatch back our attention with a thrilling finale which features a seemingly never-ending car duel. It’s a lot of fun to watch and is almost up there with other great Quentin action scenes such as the Bride vs. the Crazy 88 and the shootout at Candy Land.

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Most of all though, Death Proof is just plain fun. It may be overlong but it’s full of brilliant dialogue and memorable characters. It also has a fantastic soundtrack which is almost like another character. The action scenes are also sensational. I enjoyed it a lot.

eight-out-of-ten

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